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The Lincoln Institute & Clarence Thomas

In terms of institutional structures for disseminating Black conservative ideas, the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education in Washington, DC, is the bastion of Black conservatism. Founded by Jay A. Parker in 1978, the Institute illustrates the typically overlooked importance of Black conservatives to conservative US foreign policy agendas.

Since its founding, the Lincoln Institute has had close ties to the extreme rightist World Anti-Communist League (WACL). WACL aggressively supported right-wing governments and military movements in Central America and Southern Africa, such as the Contras in Nicaragua, the ARENA Party in El Salvador, UNITA in Angola, RENAMO in Mozambique, and the Inkatha Freedom Party in South Africa, among others. Parker served on the Board of the US WACL affiliate and Lee Edwards, another Lincoln Institute founder, was a principal WACL organizer in the United States and WACL's registered agent in 1982.

Clarence Thomas, widely portrayed as a neoconservative, is a classic illustration of the murkiness of the dividing line between mainstream conservatives and ultra-conservatives. Clarence Thomas and Jay A. Parker served together on Ronald Reagan's 1980 transition team for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to Parker, the team "argued strenuously" against affirmative action, which they viewed as "a new racism." By March 1981, Parker had become a registered agent for the South African homeland of Venda. In June 1981, Clarence Thomas joined the Advisory Board of the Lincoln Institute's quarterly publication, The Lincoln Review. At the same time, Thomas became an Assistant Secretary of Education. Parker's Justice Department filings state that soon after he began representing Venda, he held discussions with US Department of Education officials about his client.

In 1985, Parker and William Keyes, the former Reagan aide (and a contributing editor for The Lincoln Review), founded a lobbying organization called International Public Affairs Consultants, Inc. (IPAC). That same year, IPAC began representing the South African Embassy. Clarence Thomas was listed as one of a handful of guests attending an IPAC dinner for the South African Ambassador in 1987. In 1984, Keyes started Black PAC, with Parker serving as treasurer, to work for Jesse Helms's re-election, and to oppose the "terrorist outlaw" African National Congress (ANC) and "extremists" such as Jesse Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus. In June 1987, the conservative weekly Human Events reported that Thomas, then of the EEOC, and Clarence Pendleton, who was then Reagan's chair of the US Civil Rights Commission, attended a Black PAC strategy session to plan for important political battles being waged in Congress.

Also in June 1987, Thomas made a well-known speech at the Heritage Foundation, in which he said: "A few dissidents like Thomas Sowell and J. A. Parker stand steadfast, refusing to give in to the cult mentality and childish obedience that hypnotize black Americans into a mindless political trance. I admire them, and only wish I had a fraction of their courage and strength." Thomas remained on The Lincoln Review's Advisory Board throughout the period Parker and Keyes represented the South African government, resigning at the time he was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeals in March 1990.

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